The cultivation of soft fruits on Moroccan soil is developing rapidly. The fertile soils, the good climate conditions and the government's agricultural support make the North African country the berry-growing region par excellence. Fruit company Freshkampo has also been marketing strawberries and raspberries from Moroccan contract cultivation for two years. And with increasing success, said Mathias Hundhausen, managing director of the European Freshkampo subsidiary Euromeridian BV.
In close cooperation with Moroccan subsidiary Meridian du Maghreb, soft fruits are produced for the European market on approx. 110 ha. It is still a fraction of the approximately 2000 hectares in the main growing country Mexico, but the growth potential in Morocco is far from being exhausted. "In close cooperation with our breeder, we are currently working on new berry varieties for the European market," Hundhausen outlines.
Positive development of the Berry Division
Raspberries come mainly from the southern Moroccan region of Agadir, while strawberries thrive best in the north of the country. "The first Moroccan strawberries from our contract cultivation usually hit the market in November, and the season usually lasts until the end of February. Moroccan raspberries are available until the end of June. Mexican raspberries and blackberries are available all year round, while in Europe they are usually available between September and April, so the two campaigns partly overlap and complement each other. "Our concern, however, is to offer a closer alternative for Mexican air cargo."
All in all, they were quite satisfied with the past 2019-2020 season, confirms Hundhausen. "We have noted an excellent development of our Moroccan subsidiary and are therefore looking confidently into the future." The growth rates in marketing are also pleasing, both in the main sales markets such as Great Britain, the Netherlands, Russia and Scandinavia, but also in Germany. "Across the food retailing sector, we are seeing a further increase in berry consumption. 15-20 years ago, little berries were traded outside the domestic season, but now the end consumer has developed a feeling for the product. The retail trade is reacting to this trend with corresponding Ready2eat and convenience concepts."
"The 2020/21 season will be strongly influenced by Covid-19 and accordingly very challenging for all producers worldwide. However, we are confident that we will continue to supply our customers," adds Hundhausen.
The Moroccan climate and soil are ideal for growing all kinds of fruit and vegetables, whether citrus, soft fruit or sweet potatoes. The Moroccan state also promotes agriculture. According to Hundhausen, these unique conditions contribute significantly to the high quality of Moroccan berries. " Variety-technically Morocco and Spain are approximately alike, the difference make above all the lower production costs. Our experienced producers ensure a high and above all constant quality of our Moroccan berries."
Hundhausen thus sees great growth potential for the berry sector in the North African country. "A great deal is being invested in the cultivation of blueberries. I am therefore certain that Morocco will be able to cover a large proportion of European demand in around five years' time."